Dutch red cocoa and natural cocoa: the differences

It’s easy to say cocoa! Cocoa powder is one of the ingredients that cannot be missing in any pantry but, just like chocolate, there are different types.


Let’s find out together, therefore, what are the differences between natural cocoa and Dutch red cocoa which are mainly based on the ways in which the cocoa beans are processed and which result in substances with different characteristics.


The processing of bitter cocoa powder


The history of cocoa and its processing originates among the pre-Columbian populations, in the territories of South America where theobroma cacao originates.


The cabosse, the fruits of the cocoa plant, have been harvested by hand for millennia to extract the precious seeds to be fermented first and then dried.

Through this process, the beans are obtained, which can also be roasted and, subsequently, ground to obtain cocoa powder.


This simple process, still today, is the one on which the production of natural cocoa rests, while for the red one a further phase is necessary.


A few centuries after the ships of Christopher Columbus brought cocoa to Europe, and precisely in 1828, in fact, the Dutch chemist Van Houten not only invented a press to extract butter from roasted cocoa beans, but also added a step in the processing of cocoa.

Dutch cocoa powder has since been treated with alkaline potassium or sodium salts.


Is it better the alkalized and potassium red cocoa or natural? Features and uses in the kitchen


You don’t need to be an expert to distinguish between the two main types of cocoa.

First of all, natural cocoa and Dutch cocoa have different colors: if the former is light brown, the alkalized one is more brown with reddish hues.

The flavor and, consequently, the use of the two powders in the kitchen also differs markedly: natural cocoa is more bitter and acidic, while Dutch cocoa has a decidedly softer taste.


Furthermore, the Dutch processing gives the cocoa powder two important characteristics. While on the one hand red cocoa, not being acidic, needs yeast to be used in the preparation of soft cakes, on the other hand it is much more soluble in liquids.


Cocoa powder in RivaReno ice cream laboratories


Cocoa for us at RivaReno is a serious matter and, for each chocolate ice cream that is produced in our laboratories, we carefully choose the best raw materials based on the recipe and the intensity of flavors we want to obtain.


For the dark chocolate ice cream we have selected a mix of cocoa that come from the Ivory Coast and Zaire and then be roasted in Holland.

The extra-dark one, on the other hand, bases its strong and unmistakable taste on single-origin chocolate from Madagascar.


We are waiting for you in our laboratories to choose your favorite!